IAWS on course for full-year forecast


THE agri-business group IAWS has continued its strong growth in the six months to the end of January, with a 38 per cent rise in pretax profits to £4.8 million. The figures are of limited interest as the bulk of IAWS's business comes in the second half of the year, but analysts believe the group is in line to meet full-year profit forecasts of around £16 million.

Sales in the half-year were up 9 per cent to £246 million and, according to the company, trading was satisfactory across all divisions.Analysts believe the UFP fish meal operations in Scotland - acquired last September for £11.3 million - came in ahead of budget. All the company would say was that it received "a positive contribution from new acquisitions". These include UFP and the £1.5 million acquisition of the Malting Company of Ireland. Since the end of the half-year in January, IAWS has paid a further £4.7 million for acquisitions in Ireland and Britain.

IAWS has also formed a strategic alliance with Finnish group, Cultor, in which IAWS will provide technical back-up to Cultor's Pacific Proteins subsidiary in Chile. IAWS also has an option to buy 50 per cent of Pacific Proteins in two years time for a figure between $15 million and $20 million (£9.5-12.5 million).

Trading in the second half of the year is described as "satisfactory" but IAWS should benefit from the cold, wet winter which usually results in greater consumption of animal feed and fertiliser in the spring and summer months.

IAWS shares have traded strongly in the past year and are currently at 142p, 8p off the all. time high of earlier this year. Shareholders - the majority of whom are Irish agricultural co-ops - are to receive an interim dividend of 1.392p a share - up 10 per cent on last year.